TGIF: Conventional Medicine Vs. Alternative Medicine Regarding Cholesterol

Conventional and Alternative Medical Views Regarding Fats and Cholesterol ~ Dr Weyrich
Conventional View Alternative View
Elevated LDL Cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease. The same studies that show an association between elevated cholesterol and cardiovascular disease also show that there is NOT an association between cholesterol and all-cause mortality. This is because there appears to be an inverse association between cholesterol levels and other diseases, such as cancer.
Elevated LDL Cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease. Association does not prove causality. There is a large body of evidence that suggests that cardiovascular disease and elevated cholesterol are both caused by a third factor, namely inflammation of the cardiovascular tissues. Efforts should be directed towards reducing the underlying cause (inflammation), rather than the effect (elevated cholesterol).
Statin drugs are an effective way to lower cholesterol levels. There is no doubt that statin drugs are effective in lowering cholesterol. However there is scant evidence that statin drugs actually reduce all-cause mortality. Furthermore, some research suggests that any clinical benefit derived from taking statin drugs is due to their mild anti-inflammatory properties, rather than to their ability to prevent the production of cholesterol. There are safer and cheaper ways to control inflammation.
Statin drugs are a safe way to reduce cardiovascular disease Statin drugs block the body’s production of both cholesterol and Co-Q10. Both of these substances are essential to normal body physiology. Cholesterol is the starting point for the body’s production of important hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. Co-Q10 is a critical component of the electron transport chain in mitochondria that is responsible for most cellular energy production, including in heart muscle. Furthermore, some research shows that cholesterol is a critical to the formation of new memory synapses, and there appears to be a link between statin drug use and Alzheimer Disease-like disorders.
The most important lab test for assessing cardiovascular disease risk is a blood-lipid panel to measure HDL, LDL, VLDL, and TG (e.g. a “lipid panel”). As discussed above, it is not clear that taking statin drugs is beneficial, so why bother doing a test that is used to justify prescribing statin drugs? Instead, another test should be run, which measures homocysteine in the blood. Elevated homocysteine levels have been shown to correlate better with cardiovascular disease than the LDL-cholesterol levels, and elevated homocysteine levels are also indicative of the inflammatory process that is thought to underlie both elevation in cholesterol and increase in cardiovascular risk. In most cases, elevated homocysteine can be easily treated with non-prescription vitamins – much to the pharmaceutical companies’ chagrin.
The “lipid panel” measures cholesterol. The lipid panel does not directly measure cholesterol. Instead it measures the amount of several balls of proteins that can carry fats and cholesterol (lipids). These balls of protein plus the fats and cholesterol are called HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein). LDL and VLDL carry lipids TO cells in the body, and are considered “bad” cholesterol; HDL carries excess lipids FROM the cells back to the liver for elimination, and is considered “good” cholesterol. Generally speaking, increases in either “bad” fat intake or cholesterol will elevate levels of LDL and VLDL.
Total Cholesterol should be under 200. Total cholesterol is calculated by combining in a formula the HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), and TG (triglycerides). Since HDL is considered to be “good cholesterol” that REDUCES cardiovascular risk, people who have high HDL may have “normal” “bad cholesterol” but still exceed the total value of 200. There is no rational reason to treat such people with statin drugs.
The fact that persons who have the genetic disorder called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (in which the body makes an abnormally high amount of cholesterol) are at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) proves that cholesterol is bad. However, other studies report that while the risk of CVD is increased in these patients, the risk of cancer is reduced. Furthermore, there is another genetic disorder that has also been studied, in which the body produces an abnormally LOW amount of cholesterol. These unfortunate patients fare far worse – thus showing that LOW cholesterol is worse than HIGH cholesterol. This is not surprising – as with most things, moderation is important.
Saturated fats are unhealthy. Numerous authors have pointed out that the original research that is usually cited in support of the assertion that saturated fats are unhealthy was invalid because it ignored conflicting data.
Because butter and coconut oil are saturated fats, they are bad fats. Even if some saturated fats are bad, it is important to distinguish between short chain, medium chain, and long chain fatty acids. Long chain fatty acids require LDL for transport in the blood, because they are highly hydrophobic. Short chain fatty acids are soluble in water and do not require LDL for transport. Medium chain fatty acids are somewhere in between. Butter is mostly composed of short chain fatty acids, and coconut oil is mostly composed of medium chain fatty acids.
Margarine is healthier than butter. Not even most conventional doctors believe this today, but they once strongly supported this idea. We now know that margarine contains trans fats that are unnatural and interfere with cellular membrane physiology.
Modern processed foods that contain hydrogenated oils are “trans-fat-free” This is not necessarily true. Manufacturers are allowed to claim “0-grams trans fat per serving”, if there is less than 0.5 grams of fat (they are allowed to round down). If the serving size were increased, they might have to label the presence of the trans fats.
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are the most healthy fats to consume. There is some evidence that olive oil, which is mostly made of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), is healthier than PUFAs. However, it is not clear whether the difference is due to the number of double bonds in the fat molecules, or due to the chemical processing that PUFAs sold in the stores undergo that virgin olive oil does not, or due to the fact that the more double bonds in a molecule, the more susceptible the fat is to oxidation to form rancid products that are harmful.
A high-cholesterol diet causes cardiovascular disease. The landmark studies that are usually cited in support of this claim were done by feeding rabbits large amounts of cholesterol. Since rabbits are vegans and do not normally eat foods containing cholesterol, it is not surprising that they are not well adapted to consuming large amounts of cholesterol; However, humans are omnivores who have eaten animal products containing cholesterol from prehistoric times and would be expected to be far better adapted to a diet containing cholesterol. Furthermore, some scientists have suggested that the cholesterol fed to the rabbits may have been contaminated with oxidation products that are harmful.
Eating fat makes a person fat. Whenever a person consumes more calories than they burn, there will be a tendency for the body to store the excess as fat. However, fat in the diet promotes the release of “satiety” hormones that cause the person to feel “full” and therefore stop eating. In many cases a person eating fats early in the meal (for example a salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing) will want to consume fewer total calories.
Eating a low fat diet is the best way to lose weight. See the comments in the previous entry, but also consider that when the fat is taken out, something else is put in – usually more carbohydrates which tend to raise blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar goes high, the pancreas releases insulin, which tells fat cells to absorb the extra glucose from the blood and to store it as – FAT!!!!

One thought on “TGIF: Conventional Medicine Vs. Alternative Medicine Regarding Cholesterol

  1. A functional medicine doc saved me from going on a statin! My PCP wanted me on one STAT! But my gut instinct said not so fast…. It pays to be your own best advocate!

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